More than 4,700 appointments have already been booked as of March 15, for the Prince Rupert community COVID-19 vaccination clinic, Eryn Collins communications manager of Northern Health said.
On the first day of the clinic, March 14, which was considered a ‘soft-launch’, more than 280 residents of the local area received their immunization at the clinic which has a capacity to vaccinate 1,000 to 1,300 per day, Collins said.
“We’re open for business and will be quite busy. Being as prepared as possible is going to make it a nice smooth process,” she said.
Collins pointed out that residents do need to be aware of the constantly changing fluidity of the situation.
“Printed materials can be a challenge,’ she said addressing flyers that residents may have received in their mailboxes. ‘This is a monumental effort that is unlike anything that’s been mounted before. So we’ve done our absolute best.”
The time frames and schedules have been condensed since printing, and the most up-to-date information is on the Prince Rupert area Northern Health social media page, she said. People can call now to make an appointment for vaccination and don’t need to wait until the date first suggested.
With up to 10,000 patients expected to be vaccinated in the Prince Rupert Jim Ciccone Centre over the next two weeks, there are some things people may want to know.
Vaccination recipients should arrive no earlier than five minutes before their appointment, or they may be asked to wait in their vehicle.
Anyone who is sick or feeling ill should call to rebook their appointment. There will still be opportunities to receive an immunization. No one will miss out, Collins said.
As well as taking the necessary BC health card or identification, it is suggested to wear clothing that is easily removable so you don’t need to disrobe. Medical staff will need access to a patient’s upper arm.
Collins suggests that vaccination screening questions listed on the BC CDC website are reviewed prior to attending.
“If they can say that they’ve read them when they come for their shots, it’ll help keep the line moving quickly,” she said.
The main gym at the civic center is set up in a one-way thoroughfare style with greeters from Northern Health completing an initial screening before patients walk through to the main gym.
Julia Pemberton health services administrator in Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii for Northern Health said when recipients first arrive they find two screening desks with volunteers and staff who will ask a series of questions to ensure good health to proceed to the auditorium.
”You’ll be asked to put out a medical-grade mask, as well as sanitize your hands,” she said.
Pemberton assures that information at registration is kept confidential with only trained staff receiving the patient’s data. All staff and volunteers have signed confidentiality agreements and nurses are available to answer any questions during th process.
Once the vaccines are administered by trained nursing staff, patients will be directed to the post-immunization area for monitoring for 10 to 15 mins. Residents will be offered a drink and a snack to eat.
“And if you are experiencing any side effects from the vaccine, we have a first aid team on-site and able to respond,” the health administrator said. “After your 10 to 15 minutes, if you’re feeling well, you’re welcome to leave.”
“The most important thing that people need to realize is receiving a vaccine this week does not offer any immunity until 14 days later. So everybody needs to be strongly encouraged to continue safe practices like social distancing, wearing a mask and washing their hands for 14 days and beyond,” she said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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